Okay I am not an expert at language. I don’t know the “crucial points” for acquiring language, nor do I know the best strategies for learning a language. But something I do know is that I cannot seem to learn Spanish even though I want to so badly.
Learning a new language, I feel opens up a new way of thinking, it opens up an entire new set of people to communicate and to try and understand. People with other ways of seeing the world, other histories, other stories, other views, could all be sources of new ideas if I could just learn Spanish. Of course I’m assuming anyone from Latin America or Spain would actually want to talk to me. . . but for argument’s sake, lets say they would.
When I am in Spanish class, I am never engaged. Instead I work on worksheets that will help me memorize grammar rules and vocabulary and conjugations and tenses and all of these things I don’t even understand in English! (I hope my grammar and spelling mistakes aren’t so bad on here). The way the class works leaves me and many of my peers bored and left to work on homework for other classes.
Language is such a beautiful thing and opens up worlds to people. But I think many people merely see language as a class, or as a grade to earn. That is how language in our schools are taught. But I have a different view, and I think language should be taught to engage people.
Lets discuss issues in Spanish, Lets listen to speeches in Spanish. Lets do these things not for a grade, but to engage a student and to make them want to speak and understand the language. I sure as hell want to understand and speak Spanish, because language isn’t something to learn. Its something to communicate with, to foster understanding, and to share ideas. I think going home and listening to a speech by a Spanish speaking politician, or reading a poem in Spanish.
Language should be something to understand not facts to regurgitate on a test. I think language opens up new doors to all that speak multiple. In fact my friend may go on a scholarship to Russia through the State Department to speak and understand Russian. Hopefully my troubles with Spanish class will be resolved, but until a different way of thinking about language in schools, I don’t think that will happen.